So­lar-trade dis­pute leads to Wash­ing­ton State plant clo­sure

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

An on­go­ing so­lar-trade dis­pute be­tween China and the US has led to the clos­ing of a plant in Wash­ing­ton state that pro­duces sil­i­con for the so­lar panel in­dus­try.

REC Sil­i­con said on Mon­day that it would shut down two units at its Moses Lake plant in Grant County un­til June.

“Pro­duc­tion is cur­rently ex­pected to be shut down from Fe­bru­ary un­til June of this year, de­pen­dent on the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions to­wards a res­o­lu­tion in the so­lar trade war and the gen­eral mar­ket de­vel­op­ment out­side China,” REC Sil­i­con, a Nor­we­gian polysil­i­con man­u­fac­turer, said in a state­ment.

The plant's clos­ing will not in­volve job losses im­me­di­ately. REC Sil­i­con said that its 400 work­ers will per­form main­te­nance and re­pair work.

REC Sil­i­con has ba­si­cally main­tained that it is an in­no­cent vic­tim of anti-dump­ing cases brought in 2011 by So­larWorld USA, the Ore­gon-based sub­sidiary of a Ger­man com­pany. Charges by So­larWorld led to the US im­pos­ing du­ties in 2012 on so­lar panel im­ports from China af­ter it de­ter­mined that Chi­nese mak­ers re­ceived il­le­gal sub­si­dies and sold their prod­ucts in the US at below cost. China de­nied that it sub­si­dized so­lar panel ex­ports. A year later China an­nounced its own tar­rifs on US polysil­i­con used in so­lar panel pro­duc­tion.

REC said the con­flict has pre­vented it from sell­ing to the Chi­nese mar­ket, which has re­sulted in lower polysil­i­con sales.

In 2014, Dow Corn­ing, ma­jor­ity owner of Hem­lock Semi­con­duc­tor, de­cided not to open a polysil­i­con fa­cil­ity in Clarksville, Ten­nessee, cit­ing Chi­nese tar­iffs and pric­ing pres­sures.

“REC Sil­i­con is an in­no­va­tive, low-cost polysil­i­con man­u­fac­turer that has been at the lead­ing edge of clean-en­ergy man­u­fac­tur­ing, but is now un­fairly caught in an in­ter­na­tional trade dis­pute,” Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee said in a state­ment. “We can avert a per­ma­nent shut­down but only if the Chi­nese and US gov­ern­ments, and the polysil­i­con and so­lar panel in­dus­tries in both coun­tries, agree to re­solve this long-run­ning dis­pute.”

Inslee pre­vi­ously wrote to Chi­nese Min­is­ter of Com­merce Gao Hucheng, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Michael Fro­man, urg­ing them to re­solve the dis­pute.

Pro­duc­tion is cur­rently ex­pected to be shut down from Fe­bru­ary un­til June of this year ...”

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